repor ts

T
Such interdisciplinary (between academics, activists, and artists) and inter-communal (between LGBTQI, heterosexual, urban, rural, religious, and secular) collaborations are necessary because our main objective is not to prescribe a single activist agenda but facilitate, promote, and
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international resource network

Sexuality Studies and LGBTQI Rights in Africa
Sybille Ngo Nyeck

circulate knowledge that explores the connections between homophobia, misogyny, and other discriminations based on and/or reinforced by cultural values and traditions.

he first meeting of the International Research Network, Africa (IRN-Africa) was held in Saly, Senegal, February 8-10, 2007. The meeting was attended by twenty six scholars, artists, and human rights activists from ten countries including Cameroon, Canada, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and the United States. Deborah Amory, Chair CLAGS Board, Paisley Currah, CLAGS Executive Director, Cary Johnson, Senior Program Specialist for Africa at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and CLAGS staff deserve special thanks for organizing this pioneering gathering. The national and cultural diversity of the scholars, artists, and activists participating in the meeting highlighted the support and enthusiasm for IRN-Africa. The presentations and discussions over the three days included the history and contemporary context of sexuality studies; LGBTQI organizing in Africa; sexual health and sexual rights for women, girls, and transgender; research on HIV/AIDS; and sexuality rights activism through visual arts and documentary filmmaking. Throughout the conference the need for interdisciplinary approach to academic scholarship on sexuality and gender as well as partnership between academic research institutions and the movements working at the grassroots and international levels was emphasized. Such interdisciplinary (between academics, activists, and artists) and inter-communal (between LGBTQI, heterosexual, urban, rural, religious, and secular) collaborations are necessary because our main objective is not to prescribe a single activist agenda but facilitate, promote, and circulate knowledge that explores the connections between homophobia, misogyny, and other discriminations based on and/or reinforced by cultural values and traditions. By disseminating such knowledge we aim to create public spaces where men, women, sexual minorities, Africans, and Africanists may freely engage in a discourse on rights including political, economic, and sexual rights in African communities as well as the limits of rights based approach to understanding sexual identity in this continent. In order to meet the challenges ahead we are already working on a number of projects such as commissioning research articles on sexuality studies in Africa, identifying and showcasing the perspectives of activists, compiling a glossary of pan-African LGBTQI terms, conducting a study of the media coverage of LGTQI issues, and developing a comprehensive bibliography of the of sexuality studies in Africa. I am delighted to be working with a dynamic group of eighteen board members dedicated to ground-breaking scholarly research and activism in the field of African sexuality rights in general and LGBTQI issues in particular. Read our conference report and the resources we’ve developed on the IRN-Africa page at www.irnweb.org. ■
Sybille Ngo Nyeck is a PhD student in Political Science at UCLA. She is coordinator of the African Editorial Board of the International Resource Network, IRN-Africa.

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